A lot these days is being said about the quality of the writing being put up on sites such as Smashwords and Kindle. Admittedly, much of the material is woefully amateurish and wouldn't stand a chance of being professionally published. I've actually purchased a couple of items just to see how horribly bad they really were (bad does not begin to describe some of them).
In addition, there's the discussions regarding whether or not "no name" authors stand a chance in epublishing. Can they rise above the tumult and the tidal wave of crap that's flooding Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, and a host of other sites if they don't already have an audience or fan following?
In regard to "no name" authors going the self-pub or ePub route, it's going to be a tough road ahead for anyone involved.
But that's why you don't go in with high expectations. You (I) don't have a ready audience (yet) or even a fan following. That, like all businesses, takes time to build. You must treat yourself and your writing like a business, develop a plan, and work at it. A single book or short story isn't going to cut it. You have to keep producing work, keep producing product for people to stumble upon and discover.
Someone, somewhere out there, is going to like what you write. When that happens that person will tell 2 people and those people will tell 2 people and the snowball effect takes over from there.
Most business plans are 5 years in duration. An author just jumping into self-or epublishing needs to have a similar plan. Most businesses lose money during the first 2 years of their business plan. Authors should not expect anything different. I don't expect more than a handful of sales during my first year with Kindle and Smashwords, but I'll be working and putting up new product all along for "customers" to discover. By the second year some of my stuff should be starting to hit and I should see sales increasing. I still won't be able to quit my day job though.
By the 3rd year sales should start picking up if I've been doing my job right. In other businesses the 3rd year is usually the "make it or break it" year, but it isn't the same with authors. If all you're making is a few hundred bucks a year, that's still free money streaming into your pocket from things you wrote years ago. You'll have better stuff available by then.
In the 4th and 5th years I expect to have an increasing audience and a larger volume of product to sell my customers.
As Dean Wesley Smith states, "books are not produce". They don't expire except with traditional publishers where they go out of print. Ebooks never go out of print unless the author takes them down. Ebooks are product that can sit on the shelves for years without expiring.
Five years down the road I may still not be able to quit my day job, but my audience will be far larger than it is today - and I'll be a better writer for the time and effort invested.
You gotta' have a plan and a main ingredient of that plan is to grow yourself an audience.
Gardens don't grow overnight and neither, in most cases, does a writer's career.
Start with a seed or a number of seeds, preferably different types, and grow what does best.